Apple’s WWDC conference is this week and Apple has released details on the new management & MDM capabilities that will be coming with iOS 9 this fall, including many features long desired by schools. iOS 9 will work on all iPad 2 and newer devices, including the original iPad Mini, though some advanced features and effects will be disabled on older devices.
Key Takeaways from Apple’s iOS 9 Announcements
Apps assigned directly to devices - Apple IDs not required
Apps will be able to be assigned directly to devices with no invitation process for both app installs and updates. Apple ID’s will be optional! App developers will need to approve their apps for this, which most should soon, but unfortunately it sounds like this is an opt-in so some apps may not be available for this method. There will also be a migration process to switch existing Apple ID assigned VPP apps to device assigned apps without any loss of data within apps.
MDM controlled, OTA iOS Updates
MDMs will be able to control iOS updates for Device Enrollment Program devices. We aren’t yet sure if this will require the device to already be updated to iOS 9.
Configurator isn’t Dead
Configurator 2.0 was announced and is a major update. New features include:
iCloud support for syncing setting between multiple computers
Configurator works with DEP & VPP
Major UI & workflow overhaul
No user-based check-in/check-out
Command line & automator automation capabilities
More advanced automatic device renaming capabilities - including serial number
New iOS Restrictions
A number of restrictions schools have been asking for will be available in iOS 9 for supervised devices, including:
Prevent setting a passcode
Prevent changing wallpaper
Prevent changing device name
Disable automatic app downloads
Prevent iCloud photo library
Disable keyboard shortcuts
Disable news app
Prevent pairing with Apple watches
Other MDM Changes with iOS 9
MDMs will be able to install/update apps even if the App Store is disabled on the device.
MDMs will be able to convert unmanaged apps to managed apps silently on supervised devices, allowing the MDM to remove any apps.
When will iOS 9 be available?
We are not sure, but unfortunately for schools, expect a late September release as in previous years.
There will be a public beta in July
iOS 9 will be available as a public beta in July, if you wish to prevent your students from installing the beta, you may block it by installing a configuration profile prohibiting end-users from installing configuration profiles onto their devices.
What’s not in iOS 9?
No news yet about a restriction for the music app.
Want to know more?
Overall, the news is great for schools with iPads and this sounds like an important update. From the end-user’s perspective, most of the other changes announced in iOS 9 are relatively minor, incremental changes, particularly for education. Although the content featured here is most relevant to schools, there are many other changes that are mostly enterprise focused but may also be of interest to education IT departments and technology directors. For more information, Apple has made much of their WWDC content publicly available at https://developer.apple.com/, see the video “What's New in Managing Apple Devices.” Additionally, Enterprise iOS always has great insights.